Asher's Ukrainian Orthodox Christening

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Steve's family is from Ukraine; he, his brother and sisters are first generation Americans. Steve is the youngest of four and by the time he came around his parents had begun regularly speaking English in what had once been a predominantly Ukrainian-speaking household.

Though it wasn't as strictly enforced with him as it had been for his siblings, every Saturday Steve attended Ukrainian school, which he recalls really put a crimp in his style when it came to socializing with his American friends and attending Friday night sleepovers.

My sister and I are a myriad of nationalities; we're mutts! When asked, we've always said we're Polish because we're more that than anything else. However, we don't speak Polish; we don't know many traditions; we don't even know which part of Poland our family is from, but we do love pierogis.

Steve's rich culture was one of the many things I found so attractive and fascinating about him. I love listening to the family speak Ukrainian; I love the embroidered clothes; I love the stories about his red dancing boots; I love the food; I love the tradition and strong religious values interwoven throughout the very fabric of his being.

I know his mom had hoped that we would marry in the Ukrainian Orthodox church, but that was one thing I just couldn't do and the reason was simple: I wanted to understand every single word spoken during our ceremony.

As a compromise, Steve and I agreed to christen our children in the Ukrainian Orthodox church. I remember the exact moment we announced to Steve's parents what we had decided; it was as if we had fulfilled their life long wish. They were thrilled and I mean THRILLED! We were happy to do that for them; it warmed our hearts to give them such pleasure. 

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The christening ceremony's formality and symbolism is unlike any other; it is so incredibly poignant that the language barrier is almost irrelevant. Particularly dramatic and moving is the chanting of prayers that seems to summon the essence of Ukranian ancestors over the centuries. 

Each ingredient - the gold cross, the icons, the tub, the oil, the incense, the dunking, the walking, the repeating of words and phrases three time - makes for the ultimate religious experience. The history and significance of the christening ceremony is felt by family and friends alike.

Asher was intrigued when the blessed oil was painted on his body; he found the singing engaging and was curious, not frightened, when immersed in holy water. He was a good boy and surprisingly didn't cry at all.

Steve's sister Sonia and my cousin's husband Brady were the godparents. Both were the perfect choice; it helped that Sonia is Ukrainian because this was Brady's first experience with a Ukrainian Orthodox ceremony. They did a great job!

Immediately following Asher's Christening, Father Bohdan - who had been there in the hospital when Atia was first diagnosed with cancer - performed a special blessing ceremony for Atia asking for God's continued mercy, healing, love, strength and grace.

That day, we left the church pure of heart, strong in faith and adorned with protective spiritual armor; our family was in God's favor.

I personally invite you to experience the beauty of a Ukrainian Orthodox christening for yourself by scrolling through the slideshow below.

My Next Blog >"Chicago's First Ladybug Bash: Treads & Threads"

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  • Love it! So beautiful! As you know, being Latvian, we love all the traditional things a culture brings into the home mix. Just great!

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